When a places calls itself The Nines, you expect a spot that is decked out. That’s exactly what The Nines delivers — in the form of a damn sexy NYC jazz club and piano bar. Think of it as the Bemelmans of downtown. If the address looks familiar, it’s because this is the old ACME space. But there’s no trace of Southern food here. Instead, expect extremely attractive people noshing on caviar.
The Nines brings back dressing for dinner and evokes old-school supper club. Appropriately part of the Golden Age Hospitality group, The Nines epitomizes — well, the Golden Age. The experience is meant to be decadence at its very best. The restaurant is filled with beautiful New Yorkers listening to lively (versus smooth) jazz, and has that air of effortless cool.
As you can imagine, reservations are hard to come by, so you have to be quick on Resy. Sunday evenings, while more chill, are slightly easier to score a table. Otherwise you can walk into the front lounge any night of the week. It doesn’t get you in the heart of the action, but it does get you a glimpse. Clearly with the demand, there aren’t enough NYC jazz clubs like this even in the city that has it all.
In a word: bordelo-esque. You walk into The Nines and it’s like walking into a red velvet den of seduction, without the S&M. The atmosphere is maybe The Nines’ greatest virtue (besides the caviar potat0, but more on that below). It’s everything that people-watching in NYC is made of, and people are decked out to have a good time. You’ll find groups of tier-two model girls’ nights out, actual supermodel girls’ nights out, celebs, couples, and groups of friends. No matter what though, there’s no question this is a definitively NYC crowd.
Besides the people-watching, the music is a highlight of the space. There’s a grand piano that anchors the room, where the musician is often the singer. The Nines is a grown-up place that, with its downtown location, has a DNA of cool vibes.
Food + Drink
The owners brought in those with pedigree, who are responsible for some long-time, though shuttered NYC favorites. Ashley Santoro from the Standard creates the craft cocktails, and Nicole Gajadhar, most recently of The Loyal and previously of Nix, commands the kitchen. Classic cocktails like the Manhattan and the Hemingway Daquari shine. So do the N9 martini and the Paper Plane.
On food, it’s what all the fancy stuff is made of. Oysters, fancy crudités, and caviar rule the menu. The caviar potato is a twice-baked rendition that’s topped with 30 grams of caviar. And no, you don’t want to share with your dinner companions, so order a few for the table. There’s also shrimp cocktail, uni, and foie gras to round it out. If you’re vegetarian, besides the crudités, there’s a mushroom paté to satisfy you. The bites aren’t very big; the club sandwich, burger, and gnudi were all delicious but small in portion size. If you’re hungry, you’ll want to order on the heavier side.
For a place this filled with celebs and beautiful people, the service is warm, welcoming, and unpretentious. But it’s also inexperienced; generally, waitstaff aren’t industry veterans. On a visit with friends, one of our guests had a martini spilled on him. While apologetic, with an assurance we wouldn’t be charged for the martini (ok, master of the obvious), there wasn’t an appropriate concession. My friend was “treated” to a martini on the house, but the more appropriate response would have been to, at minimum, buy a round. Our group, with an order of the caviar potato, was there to spend money. If you spill a dirty martini on someone’s nice shirt, a $25 drink doesn’t quite cut it.
Although that unfortunate incident highlights the inexperience of some of the staff, it wasn’t a deal breaker. Some advice to The Nines: it’s how you handle service bumps that shows your real metal.
Overall: 7/10. A go-to spot for when you want a big night out.
Q: What are the hours of operation of The Nines?
A: The Nines is open in the evenings. Hours are as follows:
Q: Is The Nines good for families?
A: Only if your children are over the age of 21 years old. This is a fancy, upscale NYC jazz club. Leave the young ones at home.
Q: Do I need a reservation at The Nines?
A: Absolutely, if you want to get into the dining room. Otherwise you can walk into the front lounge, which has about 15 seats.